Pretoria revamps Solomon Mahlangu Freedom Square

28 July 2015

The newly renovated Solomon Mahlangu Freedom Square in Mamelodi, northeast of Pretoria, in the city of Tshwane, reopened yesterday. It commemorates struggle heroes and heroines, including Mahlangu, who was born in the township.

Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said the city spent R49-million on the first phase of renovations.

“This is [in] honour of all the people who paid dearly for our democracy with their lives,” said Ramokgopa. “We have to ensure that Solomon’s death is not in vain.”

Most of the renovations were concerned with earthworks, Ramokgopa said. “Perhaps by visual inspection you can’t see R49-million. The majority of the R49-million is sitting in the earthworks.”

In the second phase of renovations, a museum and theatre will be added to the square.

The statue

The statue of Mahlangu is now the anchor point of the square, and it faces the proposed Liberation Spine, a meandering pathway that will cross the park.

The bronze statue was made by artist Angus Taylor. The first statue was unveiled in 2005, 26 years after Mahlangu was executed for being an anti-apartheid activist.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Chief Lucas Mahlangu said they was honoured. He described the freedom fighter as a brave young man, who was not afraid of death.

“Solomon played a role in our democracy. He fought against the injustices,” Chief Mahlangu said.

About Solomon Mahlangu

According to South African History Online, Mahlangu joined the African National Congress (ANC) in September 1976. He trained as an Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) soldier in Angola and Mozambique before returning to South Africa in 1977 to assist with student protests.

On 13 June of that year, Mahlangu and his companions, Mondy Johannes Motloung and George Mahlangu, were arrested for the deaths of two civilian men. Mahlangu pleaded not guilty but he was later charged with murder and terrorism, and executed. Mahlangu was buried in Atteridgeville, Tshwane.

Watch Mike Terry, executive secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, talk about the hanging of Solomon Mahlangu:

On 6 April 1993, his body was reinterred at the Mamelodi Cemetery where his supposed last words on a plaque read: “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight.”

Source: SAinfo reporter